Products go through stages in the product life cycle -- development, introduction, growth, maturity and decline. Each stage has different challenges, earning potential and associated strategies. The maturity stage is marked by slow sales growth because of near-complete market penetration. This means that just about everyone who should be aware of the product is aware of it, and most people who would buy the product have already bought it. Marketing managers have several strategies to help keep products profitable into the late stages of maturity.
Market Maturity Stages
The maturity stage has three life cycle substages: growth, stable and decaying maturity. The first stage, growth maturity, holds some remnants from the last major life cycle stage, product growth. Though all distributions channels are full, new competitors may enter the market and try to undercut in prices or rise above with value. Stable maturity is the classic feature of the mature stage because sales completely flatten and the market becomes completely saturated for all competitors. The last stage, declining maturity, guides the product into the last major product stage, sales decline. However, well-executed maturity strategies can help keep products perpetually in the first stage of growing maturity, keeping the sales from stagnation and decline.
Marketers may attempt to modify the size of the potential pool of customers (known as the market). Markets can adjust the size of the market in a number of ways. They might attempt to appeal to a new set of customers by adjusting advertising messages or offering free samples. Luring customers away from competitors is another strategy that encourages market growth and pushes competitors toward the market decline stage.
Markets can try to stimulate sales through modifications to the product. In conjunction with market adjustment, this strategy can help a product stay in the growth maturity stage. Product modifications might include an adjustment to the quality of the product or the additions of new style elements. Product developers can also add new features to the product. These features might expand on the product's quality or offer new varieties of the product.
Marketing Mix Adjustment
A product’s marketing mix is made up the four “Ps”; product, price, placement and promotion. Markets often modify one or all the elements of the marketing mix in an attempt to prolong the growth maturity stage. For example, a marketer may cut prices to attract cost-conscious shoppers or raise prices to appeal to consumers who associate higher costs with better quality.